mmm pie mmm pie charts

Visual research is the organisation, presentation, and design of information. I am learning to use mapping, data, and information design as a route to visually communicate a message. I have been asked to develop a visual language that could lead to useful and attractive designs.

My challenge was to wander around my university researching anything food and drink related that could develop into an interesting infographic design. This was very vague and so I really needed to use my imagination, stretching ideas until I came upon an idea that was unique and interesting.

I decided to focus on the cheapest location in university to use a contactless card because there’s nothing worse than trying to buy a coffee and having to buy some unwanted Doritos just to reach the minimum spend is there? There are five key places in university and strangely enough, they all have different minimum spends on cards, so I made notes of the facts and then headed back to class to brainstorm some design ideas.

Infographics come in all shapes and sizes, some infographics are interactive and show you information through a sort of game -these are called flow charts. They start off with a feature question and then the next question leads to another until you fall upon your answer. I saw some cool designs on my Pinterest and in my books at home (see picture above) that inspired me to create this, so I got out my sketchbook and started practising. These are really tricky to get right because there’s a lot of information on one page and each branch of the chart needs to lead easily to another. I was getting confused and making so many mistakes in my first attempts, but I finally managed to crack it.

I was then challenged to create infographics on a subject of my own choice and this is where the extension from my previous task came into play. I had to use post-it notes to jot down as many things as I could relating to a subject of my choice. I decided that my challenge was to think of things that made me happy and sad in my day to day life. I had so many ideas it was hard to cut them down to my favourite ones! I grouped my thoughts into four categories – things that made me laugh, made me sad, made me happy and made me angry. I then chose my favourite ten from each category and started to create my infographics.I found an artist that really inspired me to embrace my own hand-drawn illustrative style and her name is Maria Andrew. I found her through my art Instagram page and she has quite a large following online. She draws quirky sketches that show her pet hates and loves of everyday life using pens and watercolours. Her drawings are always rather humorous due to their simple yet highly relateable content and their child-like doodle aesthetic. She creates infographics about the most random things but when you see these drawings, with their wonky lines and scruffy writing, there’s something really charming about them and I wanted to replicate this style in my own designs.I started off drawing four different infographics on one page, trying to make them into one stand-alone piece. I did this my sketching my initial ideas and then I traced over them with a black fine liner pen. I love making my drawings look neat by not allowing any lines to touch, I feel like this just gives them a clean look even if the drawings are supposed to be juvenile. Once I finished this design, I decided to focus on each graph individually but scanning them and importing them into Illustrator. Once I had a digital copy of my drawings, I turned them into vectors and began to digitally colour them.

I gave each infographic a different title, but I used the same font throughout to create unity, making them all fit together as a set. My idea is to create four prints that could be hung up in frames as a collection on a wall in somebody’s bedroom. However, I’ve started thinking of different ideas too…I think having them on mugs or t-shirts would also work really well. This sort of aesthetic is really popular right now with independent online businesses creating similar things. I could even turn these into notebook designs, pencil cases or lunch boxes just like the products sold in places like Paperchase and Tiger. Stickers and phone cases could also work, as well as duvet covers or curtains??? I’m going crazy with different ideas, I think this has sparked a wicked idea for me and I’m even thinking of potentially doing illustrated gifts and homeware like this for my major project? Big things to come! I mean, Tea and a Pencil? Drawings on mugs? Drawings on homeware? It’s a pair made in heaven.

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